At the end of September, a country music superstar returned to the place that knew him when. Jason Aldean closed down downtown’s Cotton Avenue and brought in a heavyweight production team to shoot the music video for his song “Gonna Know We Were Here.”
He even hired a variety of extras -- many of them local -- to participate in the video and wave his alma mater flag by sporting Windsor Academy’s letter jacket and cheerleading uniform.
The corner pocket of downtown chosen for the shoot couldn’t look prettier in the twilight of the evening. The Macon Film Commission worked closely with Aldean’s team to make sure we were ready for them.
Whether you were participating in the video or just standing on the downtown sidewalk sidelines, it was a sight for sore eyes. Macon music’s most recent hit-maker had come home. And we were all proud to welcome him back to where it all began.
So, we didn’t just roll out a red carpet for this video, we embraced it like a long-lost relative at a Thanksgiving dinner. It made hearts swell. It made pride of place possible. This video is gonna let the world know that Aldean’s hometown of Macon was here.
To Team Aldean, we hope this is just the beginning. Nashville is great and all. But Macon is a rhinestone in the rough. Just ask the ones who came before him -- Little Richard, James Brown, Otis Redding, Razzy Bailey and the Allman Brothers Band.
Aldean may not have realized it at the time he was gigging on Riverside Drive’s Nashville South, but somewhere along the way, he took a sip from the same Macon wishing well that propelled these artists to the top of the charts.
Even though he had to re-locate to Nashville to further his career, now that it is far along, imagine if he re-made Macon into his hometown headquarters. His influence would be instant. His money would go further. His passions would make a difference -- whether on the music scene, the youth realm or even the community sports arena -- more than anywhere else in this world. Macon would listen up.
You can be anyone in Nashville. But you can be easily replaced, too. Sorry, Music City, but you’ve got enough notches on that belt buckle. Here in Macon, we actually need Aldean.
A video is the start to a beautiful reunion. A homecoming concert could be the next step to further honoring those roots. And a new local zip code is probably wishful thinking, but just as Jason Aldean proved from his first burst onto the scene, anything is possible when you come from -- and come home to -- Macon, Georgia.
Jessica Walden is the co-owner of Rock Candy Tours, a Macon music history tour company. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.